Maria Bailey ‘unlikely’ to lose party whip over compensation claim
The Fine Gael TD may instead be asked to resign as Oireachtas committee chair
Maria Bailey received criticism from Cabinet Ministers after an interview with RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke about the swing incident in a Dublin hotel. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Fine Gael TD Maria Bailey is “unlikely” to lose the party whip over the controversy surrounding her withdrawn compensation claim against a Dublin hotel, senior party sources have said.
She may instead be asked to resign her position as chair of the Oireachtas Committee on Housing. However, she must agree to this and was due to have another conversation with Taoiseach Leo Varadkar over the weekend.
Mr Varadkar received a report into the claim which was compiled by senior counsel David Kennedy. There are growing calls for that report to be published.
It is understood the matter is not likely to come before the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting on Wednesday as the majority of members “want to draw a line under this”, a source said.
“There are a number of options open to the Taoiseach at this stage – the removal of the committee chairmanship is one of them, and another is the potential removal of the whip. The growing view is that the latter would be excessive.
“There is a strong desire within the party to bring all this to a conclusion this week. It would appear that most party members would be happy with the first sanction of removing the committee position,” a senior source said.
“There is no doubt that Maria made mistakes, but she has already paid a huge political price.”
There are growing calls from Opposition parties for Mr Kennedy’s report to be published. Mr Varadkar said last week some people contributed to the report on the basis that it would be kept private. He said he did not want to override assurances given by Mr Kennedy that this would be the case.
Labour leader Brendan Howlin has called for it to be published.
On Sunday the Minister for Social Protection, Regina Doherty, said Mr Varadkar was “between a rock and a hard place” on the issue.
“The report is nothing to do with me, so I don’t know what is in it. I think he [the Taoiseach] is caught between a rock and a hard place because he got the review done so that he could assess and maybe make decisions and obviously he will have to do that,” Ms Doherty said on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics.
She said that at the same time, the wishes of those who participated on the condition of anonymity had to be respected.
Fine Gael asked Mr Kennedy to “establish all the facts” around Ms Bailey’s now withdrawn action against the Dean hotel in Dublin, where she alleged she had suffered injuries after falling from a swing in the hotel bar in July 2015.
Speaking previously about the fall from the swing, Ms Bailey said she wanted her medical expenses reimbursed.
She said that when the incident happened, she had a bottle of beer in her hand while she was on the swing and was reaching for a friend’s bottle of wine.
She received criticism from Cabinet Ministers after an interview with RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke.
As a result of the controversy, all future Fine Gael election candidates will have to fully disclose their involvement in any legal proceedings.
“We can’t just treat these things as private matters any more because they do have an impact on the rest of the party, many of whom shouldn’t bear the consequences of this,” Mr Varadkar said last month.